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Former White House adviser and expert on consumer bankruptcy Elizabeth Warren is the overwhelming frontrunner for the Democratic nomination in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, and runs a dead heat with Republican incumbent Scott Brown, according to a new survey released October 3, reports the Boston Globe.

The UMass-Lowell/Boston Herald poll of 1,005 registered voters showed the Gottlieb professor of law—who chaired the congressional oversight panel that monitored the Troubled Asset Relief Program—would get 36 percent of the vote among Democratic primary voters; none of her five opponents would get more than 5 percent. Brown was shown to be ahead of Warren in a hypothetical matchup by three percentage points, 41 percent to 38 percent, within the survey’s 3.8 percent sampling error.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the poll noted that Warren’s strong showing came even though 37 percent of respondents hadn’t heard of her, and Brown’s support is hindered by the view of 48 percent of those polled that he is doing too little to help the economic interests of the middle class. Nearly six in 10 voters also said they were “unhappy” with policies offered by Republicans in Congress—with more than two in 10 saying they were “angry” about the GOP positions. The live-telephone interview poll, conducted from September 22 to September 28, also found that 50 percent of registered voters believe Brown has been “an independent voice” for the Bay State, playing into a key narrative the Brown campaign hopes to emphasize, reports Roll Call.

Responding to the poll results, Brown stated to the Fall River Herald News: “I’ll have an opponent in November and I’m going to continue to do my job and work on the very important things that people care about and that’s jobs, job creation. It’s, what, 13 months away. I’m not worried about polls, never have been.”

Warren, meanwhile, has been gaining support from progressive organizations, most notably MoveOn.org (its political action committee has raised at least $345,000 as of last week) and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (which has raised more than $375,000); those contributions will be bundled directly to her campaign. Brown raised more than $6.7 million in the quarter ending June 30, and finished that period with $9.6 million in cash on hand, reports Roll Call.

U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas, the only woman in the Massachusetts congressional delegation, today announced her support of Warren, the first major Democratic political figure to do so, according to the Globe.

“It is not inappropriate that we are here today, with Elizabeth Warren, who again has a chance to make history as the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate,” Tsongas said during the announcement event in Lowell, Massachusetts. “In the Senate, Elizabeth will fight to level the playing field, so that you have a voice.”